Adonis Diaries

After the retreat of the Syrian Troops from Lebanon, what then?

Posted on: October 12, 2008

Note: This piece was written over a year before the assassination of Rafic Hariri PM and the subsequent withdrawal of the Syrian troops out of lebanon

After the retreat of the Syrian Troops from Lebanon, what then? What Social and Political System?  What Electoral System? (Dec. 5, 2004)

There are nowadays heated discussions about the parliamentary laws for the coming election in April and the heavy interference of the Syrian intelligence services in our internal affairs. The coalitions of pro and con the current political orientations of the government in Lebanon have missed their targets. Their political programs are non existent. Their political discourses are plagued by coded insinuations of pure sectarianism and a coward evasion to face the requisites of the future.  The society has made a full circle to where it was before the civil war.

The only differences are that: 1) the Moslem bourgeoisies (Sunni and Shiaa) have captured a sizeable share of the economy compared to the overwhelming monopoly of the Maronite bourgeoisie and 2) the polarization of the citizens into sectarian enclaves is almost complete throughout the land.

How the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon would change this stagnant social fabric if we are still apprehensive of asking the right questions? What forces would replace the Syrian forces to ensure law and order if there are no communication among the political parties? How the Lebanese citizens could ever fall again into the trap that foreign powers could guaranty a long lasting stable political system that satisfies the interest of all the citizens?  We all know that the Lebanese Army (soldiers and officers) is old and still is no match to the entrenched militias who have been governing ever since the Taef agreement.

If Lebanon is to experience a profound and lasting rebirth, drastic political reforms have to be discussed at all levels in the society. These reforms should attack the fundamentals of a civilized society, mainly a new Constitution and the clipping of the sectarian powers that is insidious in every phase of the citizen life and status. What I propose is an alternative that would make digging of trenches a worthwhile endeavor if no rational responses are offered for a compromise. I will expound on two facets of Lebanon in the future: The fundamental internal changes needed in the Constitution and the four political problems that are dividing the Lebanese society, mainly the presence of the governments with all its institutions in the South, the disarming of the Palestinian camps, the dismantling of all the armed militias, including Hezbollah and obviously, the withdrawal of the Syrian troops and its intelligence services. The Constitutional acts to be discussed are as follow:

Half the parliament members should be represented by the female sex in accordance with the spirit of a true democratic representation.

The rationales: Women are more than half the population and their intrinsic problems are more intimately understood by them as well as their solutions. They will be the guarantee that their rights are fully considered, applied and secured.

      2)   Election laws should be revisited.

 Every one who voted twice in any general election, municipality or parliament, and who can read and write in the Arabic language should be eligible to be a candidate. No fees should be attached to the application for candidature in order for the election to be for the people and by the people.

 

The minimum age for voting should be 18 so that new spirits and demands become major factors in political programs.

3)   Part of the parliament members should be elected on the basis of individual departments that would guarantee the fair representation of all religious sects.

The rationales: Electoral districts should include between 15,000 and 25,000 voters and a male and a woman deputy elected. This system might prevent unknown candidates to win by taking advantage of the notoriety of the other candidates on the list. Also, this system will insure the representation of all sects implicitly and save the Constitution to be discredited by explicitly requiring that Christians and Moslems be equally represented.

4)    Part of the parliament members should be elected on political party lines and syndicated affiliations and on the proportional basis.

The rationales: The political life in Lebanon is almost non existent because the political parties have been weakened and sidelined after the civil war. There is a strong link between the immigration of the youth and the political void that excludes them from expressing their dreams and their needs of varied opportunities.

5)    I suggest that the election law allows voters to select two political parties so that part of the members should represent the political parties that come second in the ballot boxes. The second choices should be among parties that are non sectarian historically or have proven to include other religious affiliations in their membership.

The rationales: The non sectarian political parties should also be included in the first choice list of parties.  The second choice is important so that sectarian parties would embark on programs that would promote them to be acceptable by many more than one sect.

6)     Every one of the 17 or so religious sects should be represented by one member in the parliament.

The rationales: It is becoming urgent that responsible and legitimate discussions on religious differences be aired to the public and how these different values might be affecting the interests of all citizens..

7)    Decentralization and autonomy of the districts in the administration and financial spending on projects and programs so that competition heighten performance and efficiency.

The rationales: Many ministries have to be eliminated and decentralized so that communities start enjoying the benefits of the concept of subsidiaries. Ministries like Education, Youth, Sport and Health should be dismantled and regrouped for the administration of the districts (Mouhafazats) and a post of a general counsel, for each one of these ministries, attached to the Prime Minister, has to be created in order to coordinate and harmonize among the administrations of the districts. The districts have to keep three quarter of the tax revenue without the need to be redistributed by the Ministry of Finance at later date. I suggest that Lebanon should be divided into only three districts having a continuous link from the sea to the Bekaa Valley.

 Beirut should NOT have a special status since all the central administrations are located in the Capital and would enjoy the expenditures of the central government anyway.

Competition for performance and attraction of investments would drive these districts into steady growth in all fields. The Mouhafazat should enjoy their seaports, local airports and equal number of citizens and land size. The local airports should service the internal requirements, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, and Cyprus.

Election of the administrative bodies of the Mouhafazat should take place with the elections of municipalities. The Northern and Southern regions should retain three quarter of the tax revenue for four years, the middle region two third and Beirut a third. These proportions should be revisited on the fourth year to establish an equitable balance. As working examples, the North region might include the departments or (Cadaa) of Jbeil in the south all the way to the northern borders of Lebanon and the Bekaa and Hermil to the East; the South region might include the departments of Shuf in the north all the way to the southern borders of Lebanon and the Hasbaya and Rashaya in the East. The Middle region might include the departments of Kesrwan in the north, Aley in the South and Zahle in the East.

8)    Civil marriage should be the law of the land.  Providing options outside the civil law is tantamount of increasing the power of the religious sects by their effective means of rendering the law virtually weak and inexistent

9)    All marital rights and responsibilities, like heritage, divorce, adoptions and so forth should be governed by civil laws.

The rationales: It is about time that sectarian powers to our every day life are reduced to their bare minimum and allowing the citizens to mingle, communicate freely and do commerce freely among them.

10) The President of the Republic should be elected by the people for 4 years with the option of being reelected for another single term.

The rationales: It is of paramount importance to curb this vicious cycle of making a mockery of the Constitution every six years in order to prolong the term of the President. A four years term with option for another full term would give strong incentives for the President to perform in order to be reelected for a second term. Personally, I would encourage the citizens to desist in reelecting a President for a second term.

11) Ambassadors Extraordinary should be appointed in Beirut and Damascus.

12) General Commissioners for the inter commerce and common policies should be attached to the Prime Ministers in Beirut and Damascus.

Note: The new current electoral laws have reverted us to the laws of 1960! How encouraging. No, the Syrian mandate over Lebanon for 20 years was not the main cause to our retrograde behavior; we still didn’t reach a resolution to our identity and a level of confidence in our worth do affect our future positively.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2008
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